My Downton Dinner
(I first posted this in March 2014 but as a fan of Downton it only seemed appropriate to repost on January 3, 2016 because tonight Canadians finally get to see the final season of this beloved show)
I am a fan of Downton Abbey and the Sunday dinner.
(Please read the following with an upper class English accent) So if by chance you should take complete leave of your senses and attempt to contact me on a Sunday evening in the months of January or February, you shall be gravely disappointed, because I am incommunicado between 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm. 11:00 pm on the night of the season premiere and the season finale. I am repose on the settee absorbed in an episode of Downton Abbey.
(Please revert to reading this with a Canadian accent) Downton Abbey, for anyone who’s missed this epic drama on PBS, follows an upper class family and their servants over several decades through thick and thin, war and peace, tragedies and new births.
Maybe it’s my English, Irish and Scots DNA but Downton Abbey grabbed me from the get go one cold January evening four years ago. I started watching because of the hats, I stayed for the drama, the story, my love of history, and the dinners they sit down to.
I really believe in using the good stuff. Seriously what’s the point in keeping your good china, silver, table cloths only for really special occasions? I use the good stuff every Sunday when we have family dinner night.
Note: I await Julien Fellows (the writer and creator of Downton Abbey) to come to his senses and write me a continuing role as the rather eccentric Aunt from Canada who is twice removed from dearly departed (spoiler alert from Season 3) Mathew and is loaded with money. I know I could save the family from their financial woes without going into (spoiler alert from Season 4) pig farming.
Game Plan to Pull off a Downton Dinner
Invite your Friends who are fans of the show
Shop – always the day before
Make the dessert the day before or the morning of to save your sanity
Clean the silver – I clean my silver at least three days in advance
Iron the linens – up to two days before
Set the table – the day before or the morning of
Prep the vegetables – prep the the morning of
Ice the sparkling wine and sparkling water – the Canadian way…..
The day of – invite Cityline over to tape it! Was I out of my mind? A TV crew while I served dinner? Watch what happened that night.
(see recipes below)
Prime Rib Roast
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Steamed and Mashed Carrots and Rutabaga
Roast Prime Rib
I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel. So with permission from Canada Beef here is the absolute best way to roast beef.
· For generous portions (and maybe even some yummy leftovers), buy 250 g (8 oz) per person (raw).
· For a roast that has bone, increase that by about 30% – so, 375 g (12 oz) per person.
· What’s a serving? A Canada Food Guide serving is 75 g (a bit over 2 oz) of cooked beef (which you get from about 125 g (4 oz) raw beef.
Roasting Right: Low and slow’s the way to go. Roasting beef at 275°F (140°C) makes for the most tender juicy roast beef. Follow these simple steps:
1. Season roast and place in shallow roasting pan without water and lid/cover. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the centre of roast, avoiding fat or bone.
2. Oven-sear seasoned roast in preheated 450°F (230°C) oven for 10 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to 275°F (140°C); roast to desired doneness, removing from oven when 5°F (3°C) below finished temperatures. (Cook Time charts are estimates only. The thermometer is the best way to determine doneness.)
4. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest at least 15 minutes until temperature rises by at least 5°F (3°C) before carving into thin slices.
Time-Saver Roasting: Use this method for the tenderest cuts if you’re in a time crunch. Skip Step 2 and roast at 325°F (160°C) for approx. 30 min per lb (500 g) for medium doneness. Tenderloin can be roasted at temperatures up to 400°F (200°C).
My Grandma’s recipe – works every time.
4 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) 1% milk
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
Fat from the roast or canola oil – you will need 3 tbsp (45 mL) in total – 1 tsp (5 mL) per muffin
1. In a large bowl: whisk the eggs until fluffy. Whisk in milk. Add flour and salt and whisk until smooth. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, up to 45 minutes.
2. While roast is resting, turn oven to 450°F (230°C)
3. Pour 1 tsp (5 mL) of either oil or the fat from the roast into each muffin tin. Place in oven until the oil is hot. Remove from oven and quickly pour approximately ¼ cup (60 mL) of the batter into each muffin tin, bake for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue baking for 30-35 minutes or until the Yorkshires are puffy and cooked through. Serve right away. Professional home economist tip: don’t open the oven during the first 10 minutes or you will deflate the Yorkshires.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
My dear Grandma could cook a wicked Yorkshire Pudding but her Brussels were grey blobs of mush, this is my version – a lovely shade of green and full of flavour and shape.
2 oz (50 g) diced bacon, approximately 2 slices (optional)
3 shallots, sliced thinly into rings
1 lb (500 g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced into thin slices
2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) pure maple syrup
1 Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until golden brown. [if you aren’t using bacon heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil]
2 Add shallots and sauté until golden brown.
3 Add Brussels sprouts and vinegar, sauté and then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 2-4 minutes, please don’t overcook, you don’t want grey blobs of overcooked Brussels sprouts.
4 Remove lid, drizzle with maple syrup and sauté for 30 seconds. Serve.
Makes 3 cups (750 mL)
Makes 6 servings = one serving = ½ cup (125 mL)
And a final tip: enlist your husband and your son to play the head butler and the footman. They may even wash all of the dishes and clean the house…..mine did, yes I know, I’m blessed.
more shots from the night